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Michael Shepherd



Joined: 07 Dec 2007
Posts: 1395
Location: London, UK

PostPosted: Mon Feb 25, 2008 10:32 pm    Post subject: Welcome to the Poetry Forum Reply with quote

'Poetic truth and love of wisdom spring - From wonder at the One in everything’

Saint Thomas Aquinas, commenting around 1270 AD/CE on Aristotle’s ‘Metaphysics’, affirmed that philosophers and poets have in common this sense of wonder; approaching it along their individual paths of head and heart. So there is an honoured place waiting in this Poetry Forum for poetry and poets !

Shankaracharya Sri Shantananda Saraswati tells us that the aim of art is ‘to bring a message and a smile from the Absolute’, and 'to melt the heart'. He also said 'To transcend a word is to put the word in action; after which it shines with more brilliance.'

Maharishi Mahesh Yogi has said ‘Meditation will take you to that place where creativity arises’.

Shelley called poets ‘the unacknowledged legislators of mankind’.

'Words mean -- what they do..' -- Leon MacLaren.

'Tell us, poet -- what do you do ?'
'I praise.'
(Rainer Maria Rilke)

'In the work of art, the truth of Being is at work' -- Martin Heidegger

'Artists in each of the arts seek after and care for nothing but love.' -- Marsilio Ficino


With these great sayings in mind I, as Moderator of this Forum (which means, I guess, keeping the balance but maintaining some stimulus and continuity and flow) declare this blessed cyber-space open for… what ? Anything that is related to poetry and poets and maybe philosophy, and to our personal efforts, and to the above sentiments.

I personally have no agenda. I would like to feel that anyone is free to post a poem here, and perhaps ask for useful comment; or to discuss matters of concern in the current poetry scene either in this School or worldwide; or to discuss the basics and the technical aspects of poetry; in short, to encourage poetry in ourselves and others (which includes, please, encouraging your acquaintances who write or read poetry, to become members of this site, whether to contribute or just to read); and now to open the site to the general public who may have tuned in to the School.

Let this be a meeting-place for everyone who feels that writing poems – indeed, writing even a single poem -- is a worthwhile and relevant human activity, and a revelation too.

PS : Mr Lambie is most anxious -- I too as Moderator -- that this Forum should not become a small 'club' of prolific poets... we are not aiming to set the world by the ears with The New Poetry (yet...) but simply to let the voice of poetry, which stands for so much, to be heard...so please do not hesitate to post your own poems, whatever you personally may think of them...and your thoughts about poetry...we need the fresh crisp salad varieties of poetry, and comment on poetry, to enliven the menu offered here !

Michael Shepherd

Poets appreciate feedback from readers. Praise is nice ... but feedback is useful..

If you prefer, you can convey this by the 'private message' (pm) system found here.


Last edited by Michael Shepherd on Wed Aug 12, 2009 10:41 am; edited 17 times in total
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Stephen Bagnold



Joined: 27 Jun 2007
Posts: 24
Location: Blackheath, London, UK

PostPosted: Tue Feb 26, 2008 7:50 am    Post subject: Poetry and courage Reply with quote

Splendid initiative, Michael; thank you so much for starting it and for your inspiring message.

Years ago I asked Mr Jaiswal about the possible motive forces behind the creation of poetry - was there some specific elemental power from which it arose? One of the things he said was that writing poetry required courage: courage to jump, to cut free, to go beyond the comfort of 'word anchors' in the mind to somewhere less familiar, the natural home of the creative poetic mind, containing in some way no form and no easily discernable substance - but full of limitless potential. I alway found that a fascinating idea, without altogether understanding what was meant. In some way it seems to mirror the difference between 'normal writing' and poetry. An explanation of a sonnet can be wonderful, but it's not poetry in itself.

Does anyone have a view here?

Stephen
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Michael Shepherd



Joined: 07 Dec 2007
Posts: 1395
Location: London, UK

PostPosted: Tue Feb 26, 2008 11:43 am    Post subject: Whence creativity arises... Reply with quote

Gracious thanks, O Bard of Blackheath, for being the first to cut the thinks-balloon of philosophy free from its word-anchor...

The concept which wins the recognition of most poets I've talked to or read, is that of sphota -- that tiny, huge, formless, explosion in consciousness; which is recognised, but may at that moment be the formless seed of a novel, an opera, a play, a painting, a piece of music.. but which the tendency of the artist will naturally expand into one of these (though if you're Stephen Fry, it could be any of these on any occasion...).

This is what most poets recognise -- and which gets some of them up in the middle of night, and keeps a notebook on their bedside table. And it can be -- if not cultivated, at least listened for..

It can arise at any time; and I find that reading the poetry of others can often encourage it : some undeveloped image or reference in their poem which chimes with that sense of 'something there to be explored'.

Goethe wrote a letter about this -- the necessity to put that impulse into action : since if it is in accordance with Providence, she will then support you with unexpected forms of assistance... a great encouragement for all, not only writers !

Any observations or comments about this ?
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Stephen Bagnold



Joined: 27 Jun 2007
Posts: 24
Location: Blackheath, London, UK

PostPosted: Tue Feb 26, 2008 3:59 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thank you Michael. I am alas no Bard, just a lover of poetry.......

It's a long time ago, but I seem to recall that there were a number - was it 16? - sphota, each one different, and each relating to some particular art. Rhetoric was one, presumably music another. Krishna was supposed to have direct recourse to several, possibly all. Do you, or does anyone else, know more about them and, in relation to this thread, specifically if there was one for poetry? If so, is it possible to say any more about it? Or would poetry be covered in some more general one? Or a combination?

All in all, it does seem to be a most magical process, described, in form if not substance, by Shakespeare

The poet's eye, in a fine frenzy rolling,
Doth glance from heaven to earth, from earth to heaven;
And as imagination bodies forth
The forms of things unknown, the poet's pen
Turns them to shapes and gives to airy nothing
A local habitation and a name.
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Michael Shepherd



Joined: 07 Dec 2007
Posts: 1395
Location: London, UK

PostPosted: Tue Feb 26, 2008 4:29 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

ah, could you be meaning the 16 shakti, the magic skills of the Absolute magician, of which it's said that Shakespeare was exceptional in having 5, was it ? Maybe someone could help us there.

By Ficino's time (from whom, arguably, Shakespeare got the nudge) they were known from classical sources as the four phrenzies or types of furor divinus or divine madness or mindlessness; including prophecy, love, and 'poetic frenzy'. ('The lunatic, the lover, and the poet...')

'Poetic frenzy' sounds far from a staid writers' class...but there's more to it than that. Vacuo mentis or the sudden emptying of the mind, which Ficino was said to suffer from, would be more familiar to us as a propitious state; and perhaps more akin to the true meaning of poetic inspiration, and sphota in rapid transit, rapid expansion ?
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Kevin Burns



Joined: 03 Jul 2007
Posts: 48
Location: Lewes, England

PostPosted: Tue Feb 26, 2008 5:06 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hola, Michael. May I express my hope that this Forum is a success like the Plato one, and more?
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Peter Blumsom



Joined: 09 Mar 2007
Posts: 1093
Location: Wembley, London, UK

PostPosted: Tue Feb 26, 2008 11:06 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Well, someones got to dive in -and I'm not proud. This is a poem I worked through with the late Geoffrey Mulford, sitting outside his house at Shepperton while watching the Canada Geese waddle along the bank of the Thames. I remember as one walked by us Geoff said with a twinckle in his eye, 'He thinks he's going somewhere. Doesn't he realise he's already there?' I loved his sense of humour. He was writing a thesis on early Christianity and asked me what I though heaven was. I couldn't think what to say, so he said 'Don't worry. Just write a poem about it.' It was a bit out of the blue but we sat there and with his help I cobbled this out. I like patterns and this one I find interesting (ABACBC). I discovered it on the tube between Tottenham Court Road and Holborn. It contains the harmonic mean (we were both Pythagoreans in our last life).

It's not easy, but it says more or less what I wanted it to say.

What is Heaven? - the question posed
is it a nectar consumed by thought
And in that consumption enclosed,
its truth transfigured into lies?
And at their centre are we caught
They, the web, we the flies?

Strangely into my sleeping mind
impressions sneak that beg no source
of pleasurable or of painful kind,
perhaps a glimpse of happiness.
so fine yet so brief in course
there is no time to curse or bless

Their garments are of random view
perhaps a scene in northern town
spied glumly first, yet in review
something seen, at first concealed
deep within that mental frown,
something of heaven now revealed

Yet, was heaven in that scene alone,
with all its grimness and its strife?
or was it that which, upon it, shone
warming the grey skies and bitter cold?
was it the perception which granted life
to every thing it did enfold?

In that fragment was all in place
un- interpreted to earthly mulch
no ecliptic marred that heavenly space
and though suns and moons still wandered free
they hindered not its fleeting touch
silent, unmoving beyond times decree

Where all wheres are one where
no whither nor no whence
as much said Plotinus in words more fair
but then he lived a life in bliss
no past, no future, just present tense
that is heaven, that is all there is

Then heaven is all around
in the seer and the seen
yet, strangely, I'm still to be found
held up in earth, to the moment late,
between perfections a cloddish mean
barking like a dog at heavens gate
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David Taylor



Joined: 15 Nov 2007
Posts: 254
Location: Sutton, Surrey, UK

PostPosted: Wed Feb 27, 2008 9:14 am    Post subject: On The Birth Of A Poem Reply with quote

Well done Michael for getting this Forum launched. Thank you, I thought I had already posted this but cannot see it anywhere. Sorry if it turns up twice!

I was reading a poem:

Anyone lived in a pretty how town by EE Cummings.

It is all about the drama of ordinary life
and the cycles of life, well that's what it meant
to me, at that time.

A phrase came to mind:
"life came round and round it came"
just that.
And for me that is often how a poem is born,
a seed that somehow contains a poem.

You cannot see the poem and it has no words,
no objective, no ending but
but just like a seed all the knowledge of the
flower is there.
All I can "do" is allow it to flower and let it express
itself through this mind and these hands.
My ideas and thoughts are trying to twist
it to some unnatural shape or genetic engineer
it to better serve my purpose.
So as best as I know how, I let it flow and grow
from its seed.

Here is the Poem, I love it, if I had not loved it
how would it have bloomed?

What I love about the poem, now that I read it,
is the feeling of the unchanging that lies
behind the words, in the sound of the poem.
I read it slowly, the sound of each word comes from silence
and returns to silence as the next word comes round.



Never The Same Again

Life came round and round it came
some played serious some a game
people died and babies came
as life continued round again.

Church bells rung o'er village greens
morning mists clung to pensive trees
brides smiled and kissed their eager grooms
children played with bats and balls
flew kites that soared on far flung squalls.

Some grew apart but still hand in hand
some left, made other plans
and others with true love in heart
by life's fate were torn apart
for others they grew old
not really knowing what true love could hold.

We met deep in winters storm
with ice that clung from lives broken, torn
but slowly thawed as trust was born
and fears were shared and thoughts were warm.

The winter left and spring was sprung
the birds returned and sweetly sung
the summer heat with rain at times
grew the flowers and greened the grass
it was all that we could ask.

As autumn came and withered rusted leaves
fell upon the winter'd breeze
the branches bared and old wood cracked
as the we reached the end, the final act.

Life came round and round it came
and never was it twice the same.

------------------------------------------------

All and any comments welcome.

_________________
David
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David Taylor



Joined: 15 Nov 2007
Posts: 254
Location: Sutton, Surrey, UK

PostPosted: Wed Feb 27, 2008 9:25 am    Post subject: Re: Poetry and courage Reply with quote

Stephen Bagnold wrote:
Splendid initiative, Michael; thank you so much for starting it and for your inspiring message.

Years ago I asked Mr Jaiswal about the possible motive forces behind the creation of poetry - was there some specific elemental power from which it arose? One of the things he said was that writing poetry required courage: courage to jump, to cut free, to go beyond the comfort of 'word anchors' in the mind to somewhere less familiar, the natural home of the creative poetic mind, containing in some way no form and no easily discernable substance - but full of limitless potential. I alway found that a fascinating idea, without altogether understanding what was meant. In some way it seems to mirror the difference between 'normal writing' and poetry. An explanation of a sonnet can be wonderful, but it's not poetry in itself.

Does anyone have a view here?

Stephen


Stephen! YES is my view, I love this and in my view not understanding it and not limiting it by some formulation of what it means is a great place to "Be" and full of the potential for poetry!

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David
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Michael Shepherd



Joined: 07 Dec 2007
Posts: 1395
Location: London, UK

PostPosted: Wed Feb 27, 2008 10:07 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

It's an excellent idea, I feel, that those whose poetry we did not know before (and that's practically all of us) introduce themselves with the aid of one of their own poems. It's the best way of getting to know each other. Thanks, Pete and David..

And that includes those of you (and you know who you are !) who have indicated to me -- often by their facial expression -- that they'd rather love and write poetry privately, thanks... Dunno about you, but I'm afflicted by this idea that nothing I write is ever quite good enough for my fellow students and for a School context... so join the club, and come on board !

It's a great time to write poetry -- and for everybody to write poetry, like everybody should sing...there are no 'rules' any more, so we can rely on self-discipline and 'freedom to be responsible' in the splendid words of that Indian headmistress on TV : freedom to write strictly formal verse, whose accepted structure can bring out quite unexpected things from the mind; or freedom to write about anything and everything in any way that we find useful.
Poetry today offers a wonderful spectrum of endeavour. I hope this Forum will reflect that.

And as a grammar freak, I have to admit that following such celebrated poets as e e cummings and Gertrude Stein, experiment with language and grammar is an essential aspect of poetry.. though it helps to know the 'rules' before you enjoy breaking them !

(Though that said, the Forum rules that apply here, forbid text-language..!)

More, more...!


Last edited by Michael Shepherd on Sat Apr 05, 2008 10:15 am; edited 1 time in total
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Michael Shepherd



Joined: 07 Dec 2007
Posts: 1395
Location: London, UK

PostPosted: Wed Feb 27, 2008 10:18 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

And just to affirm what David says about the agreeable state of 'not understanding' poetry : a profitable attitude to take -- and I wish I followed it more often myself -- is: if you don't understand a poem or don't like it at first reading -- don't rush to judgment; just read it again !
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Peter Blumsom



Joined: 09 Mar 2007
Posts: 1093
Location: Wembley, London, UK

PostPosted: Wed Feb 27, 2008 10:58 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Nice one, David, I particularly like:

Quote:
'flew kites that soared on far flung squalls.'


and:

Quote:
'the branches bared and old wood cracked'


They both speak and scan. Usually I can only get one or the other!

The second reminds me of this old tree I saw by a village pond near Harefield. It could hardly limp in the breeze or wheeze itself from the ground, and should have 'been gone' but the villagers had propped up all its ailing branches with posts. Obviously they were not ready to let this old friend go.

Deos anyone know anything about the Areopagites, the group of poets who precursed Shakespeare?

Good luck to this forum.

Pete
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Michael Shepherd



Joined: 07 Dec 2007
Posts: 1395
Location: London, UK

PostPosted: Wed Feb 27, 2008 12:01 pm    Post subject: Areopagus Reply with quote

Pete – the ‘Areopagus’ is a conjectural group or club of poets around 1580 in London, guessed at by literary historians, on the basis of the term being used by Edmund Spenser in two letters to Gabriel Harvey and their replies, published in 1580.

Around 1580, there were clearly informal discussions between Spenser, Harvey, Sir Philip Sidney (whose sister, Mary, down in Wilton House near Southampton, bids fair to be the Sheila Rosenberg of her era…), and Sir Edward Dyer, about the degree to which classical versification could be applied to English verse form.

A fair idea of their discussions can be gleaned from Sidney’s ‘Defence of Poesie’ published in 1580-81 : where following Horace’s dictum that poetry instructs as it delights, Sidney adduces 70 authorities, including Plato and Aristotle, in his argument; and also from his own sonnets – published in 1581 -- which if Shakespeare had never existed, would be seen as one of the jewels in the crown of English literature. But alas, as with Salieri and Mozart… Shakespeare had more of the 16 shakti …

So what can we spot of their more far-reaching judgments ?

They opted for the classical ‘feet’ – iambics, di-dah-di-dah, trochees, dactyls, spondees, etc, of classical verse (the Greeks called our familiar iambics ‘the walking metre’) rather than the French system, still maintained, of counting syllables with more or less equal weight;

they opted for five ‘feet’ to the line, pentameter, as in Shakespeare’s ‘blank verse’, as Chaucer had used it, rather than the 12-syllable line which the French found suited them;

and of course, they all played around with other verse patterns before and after; with an eye to French and Italian exemplars;

and in practice, within all this, developed the particular ‘music’ of English speech and poetry, with all the many weights, lightnesses, accents, stresses, emphases, micro-pauses, that we hear in great Shakespearian actors and verse-readers (and for me, the subtle rests and pauses of punctuation…);

as to rhyme, this clearly was regarded as optional (neither Greek nor classical Roman poetry in Latin used it); there is a sense in the verses spoken by Puck and Ariel and sometimes others in Shakespeare, that rhyme is connected to spells and incantations, the more orally ‘magic’ aspects of poetry -- words that mean what they do and do what they mean..

… and so, my friends and mortals all, my speech
says, poetry is to enchant and teach…
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Michael Shepherd



Joined: 07 Dec 2007
Posts: 1395
Location: London, UK

PostPosted: Wed Feb 27, 2008 11:50 pm    Post subject: Haiku Reply with quote

Poetry will teach you poetry…The more regularly you write – especially on the days when you have ‘nothing to say’ – the more the mind ‘does it for you’, padding just a step or two ahead like a well-trained dog.

And the more you read the poetry of others, the more the mind seems to limber up and feel its powers.

One of the easiest ways to keep up this mental and emotional fitness, is to practise haiku; which is really an awareness exercise for poetic philosophers, or philosophic poets.

Haiku is essentially a traditional Japanese art form for the traditional Japanese : who love the relaxing and reflective freedom of contemplating nature, to set against their highly structured social interaction. So it’s a balance of head and heart, of strict rules and free imaginative perception.

The West has adopted and adapted the haiku; and there are as many ‘rules’ for ‘haiku’ in English, as there are self-styled authorities. But any rules can be useful for practice.

The usual ‘rules’ are : three lines of respectively five, seven and five syllables; an indication of the season of the year (this very optional these days); and some sort of ‘jump’ from a straight observation of nature in some form, to a mental or emotional association – best of all, one that provides an exclamation of delighted surprise (the ‘hai’ of haiku) in the reader.

The Japanese try to include the answers to What? Where? and When? in these three lines; easier in Japanese ideograms, than in English within seventeen syllables !

The three great masters of Japanese haiku took them in three distinct directions : as spiritual seeker; as artist; and as humanist; so there is great scope.

Now that this housefly
has finished wringing its hands
over past deeds -- what ?


A light-hearted example for Pooh fans, which maybe gives a hint of the aim of haiku…

Haiku – like Poohsticks :
plop ! then walk across the bridge
for a nice surprise..


But on a more serious note : Kenneth Verity is our European Grand Master of haiku – read his own collections of haiku, catch him for a quick word sometime, and try them out.

It’s a very pertinent activity for philosophers, all about the moment Now, when the mind is still and the senses are alert, and together they produce… hai ! Or what German philosophers call ‘The Aha-effect’.

Winter Fun

Delicious snowflake
falling gently, then melting
on my outstretched tongue.


Last edited by Michael Shepherd on Wed Mar 19, 2008 4:48 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Michael Shepherd



Joined: 07 Dec 2007
Posts: 1395
Location: London, UK

PostPosted: Thu Feb 28, 2008 9:54 am    Post subject: haiku Reply with quote

Pete, I think the Japanese would appreciate the action of the villagers of Harefield !

Old tree by the pond :
the crutches under each branch
made of friendly wood !


Last edited by Michael Shepherd on Wed Mar 19, 2008 4:49 pm; edited 1 time in total
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